Lagos May Fire Doctors


The Lagos State Government says it is disenchanted with the lingering strike  embarked upon by doctors in the state and may be forced to replace them with new  doctors if they refused to call off the strike.

The doctors had been on strike for over two months to press home their demands and  they want the state government to implement the Consolidated Medical Salary Scale,  CONMESS, approved for federal medical doctors.

The strike has grounded public hospitals in the state, with patients bearing the  brunt as some of them had reportedly died because there were no doctors to attend to  them.

The government asked the doctors to embrace dialogue now and return to work if they  do not want to face the music.

“If this appeal is not heeded, the State Government may come to the inevitable  conclusion that the medical doctors have relinquished their employment and will  begin to find replacement for the striking doctors,” Mr. Opeyemi Bamidele,  Commissioner for Information and Strategy said in a press release from his ministry.

According to the commissioner, the state government noted with regret that a lot of  citizens were being denied access to medical care as a result of the strike by the  doctors.

Bamidele stated that the state government had shown considerable restraint and  sensitivity in handling the crisis in order to achieve speedy resolution, adding  that government was not opposed to a review of salaries but that such a review must  be done through a negotiating process and not predicated on the adoption of the  Federal Government pay structure.

The commissioner, however, commended the sense of duty and commitment demonstrated  by some medical doctors, pharmacists, nurses, laboratory scientists and other health  workers who had been reporting at their duty posts since the commencement of the  strike in spite of threats from their striking colleagues.

He reiterated that despite the intervention of the Industrial Court where the issue  was taken to, with a view to getting the striking medical doctors back to the  negotiation table so as to reduce the burden on the citizens of the state, the  medical doctors refused to call off the industrial action.

Meanwhile, patients in Lagos State have given the Governor, Babatunde Fashola an  ultimatum to meet striking doctors’ demand or face the music of patients relocating  to the Governor’s office.

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Scores of patients had protested yesterday at the Government Secretariat, Alausa,  Ikeja, Lagos, South West Nigeria and claimed that 27 patients had died as a result  of the strike.

The patients carried placards some of which read: “Fashola, answer the doctors for  the sake of the patients,” “Pay for their rights; people are suffering for medical  treatment,” “people are dying, please bear with us,” “Have mercy on the masses; we  want doctors to start their work,” “Patients are crying in the hospital,” “Children  are dying,” “Fashola; don’t let them spoil your good name,” among others.

Patients suffering from sickle cell anemia, HIV/AIDS and typhoid fever participated  in the protest and called on Fashola for immediate intervention.

One of the aggrieved patients, Mrs. Olawale Yinka, said the patients had decided to  give Fashola till Monday next week to meet doctors’ demands, saying that patients at  the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH would be forced to relocate to  his office.

According to her, she is a cancer patient undergoing treatment. She said she had  paid N365, 000 for her injections, adding she had not been able to take some of her  injections because of the strike.

Spokes person for the protesters, Mr. Adeoye Modecai, said the patients wanted  Fashola to sign the agreement he entered with the medical guild to enable them call  off the five weeks old strike.

“We have met with the striking doctors, and they said that the only thing they are  asking from Fashola is to sign the agreement and not immediate payment of what is in  the agreement,” he said.

He claimed that he saw at least 25 dead bodies at LASUTH on Wednesday at the  emergency ward being carried to the morgue in five ambulances.

Modecai added that a woman and her baby died yesterday before embarking on the  protest for lack of medical attention, saying that the nurses had refused to attend  to patients since there is no doctor to sign their prescriptions.

—Kazeem Ugbodaga

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